Gov’t, MILF reach impasse on Bangsamoro transitional body

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12:31 PM December 17th, 2012

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By: Ryan D. Rosauro, December 17th, 2012 12:31 PM

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ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – The 34th exploratory talks between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ended in a “technical impasse” even as they “made tremendous gains” in resolving remaining issues related to power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization.

This was how the MILF described the conclusion of the recent meeting of the peace panels in Kuala Lumpur.

In a post on its official website, the MILF said the final session was adjourned around 7:30 p.m. Saturday without a closing program.

The panels also skipped issuing a joint statement, and a schedule for the next round of talks was not set, the MILF further said.

The recent meeting, which kicked off Wednesday, was originally set for three days but was extended one more day.

The MILF said it “did not push for a joint statement and date for the next round of talks (as) there are no formal agreements whether in the level of the panel or of the technical working groups (TWGs) that merited mentioning or acknowledgment.”

After signing the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro last Oct. 15, the parties are down to completing details regarding power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization.

Both panels have set the year end as deadline for completing negotiations.

By its own account, the unresolved question of whether the MILF shall lead the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) was the source of the impasse.

Maulana Alonto, a member of the MILF peace panel, said they were considering the issue of the MILF leading the body as a “non-negotiable matter.” She argued that it would be logical for the group to lead the BTA because it has partnered with government in Mindanao peacemaking for the last 15 years.

Based on the framework agreement, the BTA sets in by the time the Bangsamoro Basic Law is ratified, which also signals the dissolution of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The BTA will also soon give way to the Bangsamoro which, in turn, is expected to have a regular set of elected leaders by 2016.

The MILF website post quoted its chief negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, as saying the position of the government peace panel might not necessarily reflect the thinking of its principal.

But the MILF noted “tremendous gains” in building consensus on the remaining issues.

It said that negotiations on power-sharing was 95 percent complete and 99 percent for transitional arrangements and modalities.

But wealth-sharing was 60 percent done and talks on normalization were 30 percent done.

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